Find Activities That Fit Your Dog’s Personality

Try something new with your dog! It will relieve his boredom, bring you and him closer, and improve your overall communication.


There is nothing sadder than the look on my 8-year-old dog Otto’s face when he sees me loading my new puppy Woody into the car, on our way to puppy kindergarten classes. This is pretty much the only time I take Woody somewhere and don’t ask Otto to come along, too. Otto’s expression was so bereft, it got me looking around for some other activity to take up with Otto (and Otto alone).

We had a blast when we were taking agility classes a few years ago – Otto absolutely loves running, jumping, climbing, and balancing – so I think that’s the thing we need to do again. There are several dog sports that I would really like to try (including Treibball and Nosework), but I know that agility is the one that Otto would have the most fun doing.

In contrast, I don’t think Woody is ever going to be a sporty dog. I have been characterizing him as extraordinarily “calm” – but my son has just come out and said it: “Mom, the word is lazy. He even eats lying down!” Woody can be speedy, and he gets the “zoomies” a couple times a day, but when it comes to training, I have to keep the sessions short and sweet. After just a couple of “puppy pushups” – repetitions of sit, down, sit, down, or sit, stand, down, etc., Woody is liable to go down and stay down. “What’s the point?” he seems to say. Of course, he’s young, and he may well develop more athleticism and endurance as he grows up, but we’ll see. There is no point trying to pound a square peg into a round hole.

Just today, I saw a post from a local protection-dog trainer, explaining how she’s taking dock-diving lessons from another trainer with one of her dogs – a foster-failed dog who looked perfect for, but did not develop into, a protection-dog prospect. I have so much respect for that! She seriously appraised the dog’s lack of enthusiasm for one type of training, observed how joyful he is in another venue (water!), and said, “Well, okay, let’s go do that!”

I recently saw a video made by another trainer I respect, of her and one of her dogs’ first attempts at an entirely unfamiliar activity: sheep-herding. She admitted that she had no idea of how to go about it; she put herself and her dog into the hands of an experienced sheep-dog trainer, and gave it a go. Her dog, a Border Collie, absolutely loved it, learned a lot, and clearly had a blast. She’s made plans to pursue it some more – not because it’s something she wants to compete in, just as a novel learning experience, and one that her dog thoroughly enjoyed.

On another topic:

I’m sorry that it’s been taking so long for me to complete a planned profile of a dog food company whose manufacturing facilities I toured last September (Nature’s Variety). My failure to get the piece completed – and to plan and begin several more pet food company profiles – can be blamed on any number of things, including too much puppy fostering in the past six months – and foster-failing/new puppy ownership, too. I can assure you that the Nature’s Variety profile will appear in the June issue, and I’m scheduling several more company tours for the summer and fall. Which pet food companies would you most like to learn more about? Let me know; I’m motivated to learn more, too.